Which Health Care Regulations Are on the Governor's Agenda for the First Half of 2021?

Last Updated: Mar 12, 2021

rules-regulations-articleIn the latest issue of the Pennsylvania Bulletin ( Vol. 51 No. 11), Governor Wolf's office released its regulatory agenda for the first half of 2021. All agencies under the jurisdiction of the Governor are required semi-annually to publish an agenda of regulations under development or consideration. 

A few of the items on the Governor's agenda may be of particular relevance to Pennsylvania physicians, including updates to the state’s hospital and long-term care facility regulations as well as updates to State Board of Medicine and State Board of Osteopathic Medicine regulations.

These updates are discussed below.

Health Facilities and Hospitals/Long Term Care Facilities Updates (Department of Health): The Department of Health (DOH) plans to update regulations regarding hospitals and long-term care facilities. The hospital regulations have not been extensively updated since their promulgation in 1982, and the long-term care facilities regulations were last updated in 1999. These updates will reflect the recommendations of two Secretary of Health commissioned task forces to review regulations governing the aforementioned facilities.

Updates to the hospital regulations could include allowing each hospital to determine which health care practitioners may be part of that hospital’s medical staff and permitting CRNAs to administer anesthesia without being under the supervision of an anesthesiologist or other physician. The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) opposes medical staff membership changes and opposes authorizing CRNAs to administer anesthesia without physician supervision. In the event that the hospital regulations include these provisions, PAMED will actively oppose these changes and submit comments in opposition. PAMED will alert its members of these proposed changes and recommend that members submit comments as well.

Note that the expected publishing dates on these regulations have changed several times over the past few Regulatory Agendas released. PAMED continues to monitor for additional developments regarding these regulations and will update members accordingly of any new information.

Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases Revisions (Department of Health): DOH will update its reportable disease regulations to include: additional and emerging diseases, new laboratory tests, and changes to exclusion policies for individuals with evidence of disease. Changes will allow for alignment with national standards and improve disease surveillance, investigation and response efforts.

Screening and Follow-up for Diseases of the Newborn (Department of Health): DOH will publish proposed regulations to revise and update the newborn screening regulations to include additional diseases, changes to policies and reporting requirements. Critical congenital heart defects in accordance with the Newborn Child Pulse Oximetry Screening Act and hearing screening in accordance with the Infant Hearing, Education, Assessment, Reporting, and Referral Act will be added to the regulations.

Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (Department of Health): Act 96 of 2018 amends Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act to provide for the required use of electronic prescribing for scheduled II—V controlled substances, including provisions for exemptions and penalties. Per Act 96 the Department of Health will promulgate regulations necessary to implement the requirements of the Act.

A PAMED resource on Act 96 compliance can be accessed here.

Tanning Regulations (Department of Health): The Indoor Tanning Act provides for regulations to be promulgated by DOH as required for implementation of the Act. DOH is proposing regulations to further clarify the requirements for the operation of tanning facilities and to provide for safety of the consumers of tanning products.

Prescribing Rules (State Board of Osteopathic Medicine): The State Board of Osteopathic Medicine plans to propose rules setting forth the minimum acceptable standards of practice that an osteopathic physician or physician assistant licensed by the Board must follow when prescribing, administering, or dispensing drugs.

Licensure Requirements (State Board of Osteopathic Medicine): This proposed rulemaking is needed to address the current transition and ultimate merger of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), creating a single accreditation system for all graduate medical education.

Practitioners of Oriental Medicine Regulations (State Board of Medicine): In accordance with Governor Wolf’s recommendation for occupational licensure reform, the State Board of Medicine will revise regulations relating to Practitioners of Oriental Medicine to reflect the application of herbal therapy for acupuncturists.

Naturopathic Doctors (State Board of Medicine): The proposed rulemaking will amend the State Board of Medicine's regulations to implement the Naturopathic Doctor Registration Act, Act 128 of 2016, which provides for the registration of naturopathic doctors.

Examinations (State Board of Medicine): The State Board of Medicine will publish proposed regulations to reflect changes made by the National Board of Medical Examiners to the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) regarding limitations on the number and timing of attempts an applicant may take the various USMLE parts. The proposed rulemaking will also remove the detailed descriptions of the FLEX and Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) licensing examinations which are no longer offered.

Child Abuse Reporting Requirements (State Board of Medicine/State Board of Osteopathic Medicine): These regulations will update existing regulations relating to mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse under the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) to conform to recent amendments to the CPSL, including the requirement that all applicants and licensees of the State Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine obtain required training in child abuse recognition and reporting. Note it is expected that regulations will be fairly similar for both boards.

The State Board of Medicine published proposed regulations on the topic in January 2021, which can be accessed here. PAMED will continue to monitor the implementation of these regulations as they move towards finalization and share updates with members accordingly.

Act 41 Regulations (Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs): Act 41 of 2019 requires all licensing boards and commissions under the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs to draft regulations for the implementation of Act 41 to include methods of determining competency and terms of provisional licenses for licensure by endorsement. Both the State Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine plan to issue proposed regulations regarding Act 41 implementation. A PAMED resource on Act 41 can be accessed here.

Additional Information

A full listing of the Governor's regulatory agenda, including agency contacts, can be foundhere. Agency contacts can be contacted for more information regarding regulations and the procedure for submitting comments.

For a comprehensive list and description of regulatory items that PAMED is tracking, please visit PAMED's Regulatory Update.

PAMED will continue to monitor the promulgation of new regulations, comment on proposed rules and regulations on behalf of PAMED members and share all updates with PAMED members and provide information to members on how they may submit comments.

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